Essien, 32, joined AC Milan from Chelsea on a free transfer last winter, but has since struggle to break into the Italian club’s line-up, making just five starts in nine appearances for a total of 456 minutes this season.
With his contract set to expire in the summer, Milan are understood to be keen to offload the midfielder in the coming weeks, but finding potential takers has not proved a simple task thus far due to his wage demands.
A move to MLS has been mooted in recent months, with Tuttomercatoweb.com naming the Columbus Crew, Portland Timbers and Toronto FC as potential suitors back in November, but none of the three would be viable options now.
Instead, the Baggies have emerged as surprise contenders for the Ghana international’s signature, with talks between the two sides said to be getting off the ground.
The club are looking to be active in the transfer window in their bid to avoid the drop under new manager Tony Pulis, although whether Essien would prove a worthwhile addition given his recent struggles remains up for debate.
Once considered among the most dominant midfielders in the game during his time at Stamford Bridge between 2005 and 2014, the former Blues favourite has been in clear decline since damaging his anterior cruciate ligament for the second time in the summer of 2011, and he has continued to look a step slow upon his Serie A switch.
While his experience at the top level would prove a major plus, his impact on the pitch could well leave fans at the Hawthorns underwhelmed if a potential deal were to materialise.